Organization(al) Culture

I’ve been having lots of conversations with colleagues about organizational culture. I’m in a pretty interesting position; I have all the qualities of a professional-level librarian but I rank low on the organizational chart (as far as status goes = library technician). These conversations have been with others on a similar level as well as all the way up to the associate and head deans.

One of the biggest concerns seems to be that we need ideas. Sorry. We need IDEAS!

Yet, when everyone already talks of having to do sooooo much, where do we find the time to think about ideas, much less talk about ideas. Another term I hear quite often is the “silo effect”. Asking and encouraging individuals to present their ideas works within this silo effect – if we don’t have the opportunity to talk about, combine, or transform one person’s idea, then it’s only going to go as far as that one person can take it. (Though I acknowledge that even asking for ideas and being available to talk and listen to everyone may be a vast improvement for some organizations.)

My initial thoughts revolved around suggesting that we set up periodic days (or half-days) in which different departments could come together and actually talk about ideas – you know, brainstorm.
Herein lies question number 1: How does one best provide an example of the brainstorming process without being in a position of leadership (at least, according to title)? I’ve been around long enough to see what happens when ideas are suggested – “that won’t work”, “we tried that years ago and it failed”, “we don’t have any policy for that”, “we’d have to change too much” and so on…

This difficulty with change or implementing new ideas leads to my next question:
Is it inherent within larger organizations to install a clear line of hierarchy? Do organizations just have it in their DNA to create highly specialized levels of structure as a way to produce efficiency? How do we shift focus to effectiveness? And flexibility?

I know there’s a lot to unpack in that last bit but I’d like to hear from others about your organizational structure and culture.

Almost 1 year in

I’m not talking about being a year into blogging, or this blog. I’m almost a year into my newest position at UK Libraries. For a long time I was in Serials and I learned a decent amount, but that position was set up in such a way that it was sooo easy to simply lock into what was required of me and just get it done. The biggest mysteries of the job usually revolved around finding the right purchase order to use or figuring out the history of any one title and whether or not we were supposed to pay for it.

My current position is in Reference Services but much of my concentration is on Information Literacy. (The capitals are totally necessary – or maybe it should be quotation marks). The biggest difference seems to be that there is simply so many interrelated and moving parts – it’s hard to pin anything down without involving something or someone else.

The other position had this as well, but it felt more linear, whereas everything now feels cyclical, which makes it easier to get confused about where in the process I might be.

I think I’ve learned more about organizational culture in the past year than I’ve ever learned. (With a shout out to management class providing me with a framework to begin to understand it.)

I’ve also learned that I’m ready for the next step. Having the ability to talk with people (librarians, professors, administrators, etc.) has given me the confidence that yes, I can hold an intelligent conversation and I have a lot to offer in the world of higher education, libraries, and information literacy.